In computer science, a mobile agent is a composition of computer software and data which is able to migrate (move) from one computer to another autonomously and continue its execution on the destination computer. In reality, the mobile agent is the code/object on move which travels in its itinerary within the network of connected nodes.
A Mobile Agent, namely, is a type of software agent, with the feature of autonomy, social ability, learning, and most significantly, mobility.
More specifically, a mobile agent is a process that can transport its state from one environment to another, with its data intact, and be capable of performing appropriately in the new environment. Mobile agents decide when and where to move. Movement is often evolved from RPC methods. Just as a user directs an Internet browser to "visit" a website (the browser merely downloads a copy of the site or one version of it in the case of dynamic web sites), similarly, a mobile agent accomplishes a move through data duplication. When a mobile agent decides to move, it saves its own state (process image), transports this saved state to the new host, and resumes execution from the saved state.
A mobile agent is a specific form of mobile code, within the field of code mobility. However, in contrast to the Remote evaluation and Code on demand programming paradigms, mobile agents are active in that they can choose to migrate between computers at any time during their execution. This makes them a powerful tool for implementing distributed applications in a computer network.
There are two types of mobile agent. The classification is based on their migration path.
(1) Mobile agents with predefined path : Have static migration path
(2) Free roaming mobile agent: Have dynamic migration path. Depending up on the present network condition the mobile agent chooses its path.
An open multi-agent systems (MAS) is a system in which agents, that are owned by a variety of stakeholders, continuously enter and leave the system.
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In the early 1990s, General Magic created the Telescript language and environment for writing and executing mobile agents, and described it with the now-popular "cloud" metaphor; as described by Andy Hertzfeld:
"The beauty of Telescript," says Andy, "is that now, instead of just having a device to program, we now have the entire Cloud out there, where a single program can go and travel to many different sources of information and create sort of a virtual service.
The company was unsuccessful, however.
Some advantages which mobile agents have over conventional agents are:
One particular advantage for remote deployment of software includes increased portability thereby making system requirements less influential.